As a leader, you know the value of creating a strategy. Every year, you and your team dedicate a considerable amount of time and money developing your key organizational plans. You’re all too familiar with the high-pressure, high-stakes rigamarole that your executive team goes through on an annual basis to lock down the programs for the year. But as the world of business constantly changes, the traditional ways we approach strategy development are quickly losing relevance. How can you ensure that the strategy you’re investing in will withstand the test of time and the disruptive world of business?
To stay ahead of change, your strategy shouldn’t be set in stone. Instead it should be a living and breathing plan that transforms with your organization. As an organization, you need to build strategic agility to be able to adapt, change, and respond to customer and employee needs on a whim.
Strategic agility is the ability to adjust course responsively to new information and opportunities.
— Stephanie Gioia, Director of Consulting
Three years into their five-year strategic plan, our partners on the executive team at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) felt the pressure to adapt and keep pace with the world of business surrounding them. Their multi-year strategy was no longer serving its purpose—it was missing a lot of new information and needed to be updated to reflect their recent accomplishments, new initiatives, and shifts in business goals. They needed a method that kept track of the leadership team’s current ideas and priorities while ensuring their employees fully understood the strategy updates and were tracking along with the executive-level changes as they were happening. They needed their employees to consistently see OMSI’s growth, the company’s changes over time, and how the work they were doing played into the overall strategy.
They had outgrown their typical strategic planning process. They needed build up their strategic agility.
In an offsite session with XPLANE, the executive team at OMSI revisited their vision and strategy. Instead of creating a final Word document and sending out an informal email to their teams, the group reevaluated their priorities and visually documented them in a new framework: the Kanban Board. This large-scale board became their updateable, tangible visual map of their strategic plan, allowing for all of their large initiatives and open questions to be mapped to their vision and strategy in real-time.
Their new approach to planning and the Kanban board itself allowed the team to...
Create continuous alignment and scale their understanding.
As the executive team worked together to visually plan and map the status of current initiatives and where they lined up with the strategy, they worked together, got on the same page, and became aligned. When they put the easy-to-interpret visual Kanban display in the heart of their headquarters, they shared that alignment and understanding with their employees. Their teams in different departments are now able to see how their new ideas supported the company’s overarching goals.
Have focus (with flexibility).
The board itself keeps the executive team to focused on the big picture and their department’s key priorities while allowing them to have the flexibility to change course along the way. They kept tabs on their past learnings and three year outlooks to continuously determine what trends could affect them while keeping laser-focused on their overarching goals.
The leaders at OMSI were able to revisit their strategic priorities in a way they hadn’t done in the past. By using visuals and drawings to explain their ideas and reprioritized their current projects based on current and future trends, the collective team learned new insights, uncovered hidden areas where they needed more clarity, and built a tool that reflected their joint strategic thinking in a way that can be used and understood throughout the organization.